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T-Squared: QRANK's Final Answer

Our partnership with the daily news quiz, launched nearly 20 months ago, came to a close at the end of August. But there are bigger, bolder innovations on the horizon.

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This morning some of our readers go cold turkey.

Twenty months ago, we inaugurated our partnership with QRANK, a daily news quiz with questions and answers pulled straight from Tribune articles. Created by Austin-based Ricochet Labs, QRANK became an addiction for many Trib loyalists, who competed to prove their command of current events and earn prizes and bragging rights.

Sad to say, August was our last month to host QRANK games. Ricochet Labs is in the process of selling the QRANK technology to another game company. That company will build upon what the Ricochet team started and take the social quiz concept in new directions. While we're sorry to part ways with something that was popular among our readers, we’re proud that we played a small part in Ricochet’s success.

The Trib wasn’t the only company to leverage the QRANK platform — the BBC, GM and Lollapalooza all had their own version of the game in the past — but we were the first. QRANK started about the same time the Trib did, and both organizations shared a belief that staying smart about news and politics didn’t have to be all broccoli; there could be some ice cream in the mix, too. That’s why we were the first to take a chance with a young start-up that believed, correctly, that current events could be "gamified" in exciting ways.

With QRANK, we got a little smarter about crafting novel ways to engage audiences with important issues. At the same time, Ricochet learned more about the news industry, and it used that experience to form partnerships with other great news operations around the world. Without having the Trib listed as a client, Ricochet would never have worked with the BBC or been praised by the likes of Esquire and Wired.

I should know: I co-founded Ricochet Labs. A few months ago, when we closed Ricochet's daily operations and started the process of selling its game technology, I began chatting with the Trib — my first customer, after all — about what was next for me. While QRANK had some modest success, I always felt we only scratched the surface in terms of what’s possible by leveraging technology, games and social media to make news consumption more fun, exciting and, yes, addictive. To my delight, the people who ran the Tribune felt the same way. So those discussions led to my joining the Trib staff as Chief Innovation Officer earlier this summer.

While incorporating games like QRANK is only a small part of my purview with the Trib, the lessons I learned from Ricochet resonate through everything I do. Yes, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to QRANK and not see it on the Trib's home page each day, but the things we have cooking here build upon what we started at Ricochet in bold ways. We may be saying goodbye to an old friend, but we anticipate introducing you to many new ones in the months to come.  

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